College students with drug convictions can face heavy penalties

For many young adults, college is a time for experimentation. It’s no secret that partying, drinking and drug use on college campuses is widespread.

Getting caught with drugs can have far-reaching effects on a college student’s future. The following are three ways a drug possession charge can negatively impact college students:

  1. Jail time and fines. Possession of a controlled substance can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the crime dictates the severity of the consequence. For example, possession of 30 grams or more of marijuana can result in a misdemeanor charge with one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. A Class 1 Felony is punishable up to $25,000 and anywhere from 4-15 years in federal prison.
  2. Eligibility for federal student financial aid. A federal or state drug conviction can disqualify eligibility for federal student aid grants and loans. Without these financial resources, some students cannot afford to stay in school and drop out while others may end up with substantial student loan debt. Students also stand to lose athletic or merit-based scholarships.
  3. Academic suspension or probation. Drug violation consequences, even off-campus, go beyond legal repercussions. Disciplinary reprimands by a schools’ Student Code of Conduct Board can include academic probation or suspension. Policies for drug use vary from school to school. The University of Illinois Chicago, for example, prohibits all students from the unlawful manufacture, possession, sale or use of controlled substances.

Students with drug charge convictions may also have issues with gaining employment or not get into graduate school because of a past criminal offense.

Whether a college student is accused of marijuana possession or caught with unauthorized prescription pills, the consequences of a drug conviction can derail a promising future.